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RETIRED [Nov. 15th, 2007|12:58 am]

I'm tired of livejournal. Therefore I have established a blog on my own site. Of course there are RSS feeds and so on. I don't plan to make any more posts here, although I have no plans to delete or move any old stuff.

Before I go, though, I'd like to draw attention to one thing. Through the mysteries of the internet, this old post of mine is apparently among the top hits on google for "am i mental". I know this because I've gotten a few sad and sort of touching comments on it, and I finally figured out why. I don't know why, but I find that amazing. I hope the people who've left comments on that post are all doing ok.

Catch ya later, evil dudes.
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Hibernate and Scala [Nov. 12th, 2007|10:55 pm]
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So I spent most of the day wrestling with Hibernate and Scala. I was going to title this "Hibernate Annoyances," but that's a bit unfair. Generally, Hibernate and Scala work together very easily. But there are a couple of problems, and a bit of redemption at the end.

gory detailsCollapse )
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Sevan Ross article [Nov. 8th, 2007|01:00 am]

I happened across this article by Sensei Sevan Ross of the Chicago Zen Center earlier this week. It reminds me of some of the things we've talked about recently, and I wanted to share it with you. He's ostensibly talking about how to find a good teacher and a good community, but he ends up talking a great deal about the balance between tradition and religion on the one hand, and commercialization and adaptation on the other. It's long, but I enjoyed it. These are very subtle questions, and I honestly feel like any commitment here is already an over-simplification, and god knows any notion of authenticity is thoroughly suspect by now. But then, you have to say something. I really agree with most of what he says.

On the one hand, his comments really make me appreciate our little Zen Center. I'm very lucky to have a teacher and group of people who are stable and with whom I have real personal relationships. I'm happy that we're grounded in tradition and I'm happy not to have to worry about the kind of pandering and selling out that he's talking about. On the other hand, those thoughts are immediately followed by "How can we let people know that we're the good guys? How can we use this to grow grow grow our group?" At that point, I guess I just have to laugh at myself... Perhaps all the good guys are just unsuccessful bad guys.
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(no subject) [Oct. 19th, 2007|10:08 am]

Totally digging this quote:
George W. Bush's detainee policies have, quite simply, rendered honest and conscientious service as an Attorney General impossible. One simply cannot serve both this president and the law faithfully. It is a paradox and an impossibility, because this president does not serve the law faithfully. And what it means, at bottom, is that George W. Bush's "administration" is an enemy of the rule of law, and has so diminished our capacity to live by it that no honest Senator should permit him the charade of attending to it with the window dressing of confirming an Attorney General.
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Two Things [Sep. 4th, 2007|05:26 pm]

First, this from the New York Times Mag. Talking about the mortgage market, explaining in simple terms what's going on. Here's something I'd like to highlight:
As Robert Rodriguez, a mutual fund manager for First Pacific Advisors (where I own shares), declared in a speech in June, “The distancing of the borrower from the lender has contributed to the development of lax underwriting standards.” Rodriguez’s point was that investors in the securities, being remote from the actual real estate, could hardly be expected to scrutinize the underlying mortgages loan by loan. Most delegated the task to ratings agencies, and in time the agencies, intoxicated by the booming market, also grew lax. Meanwhile, Wall Street, sensing the appetite of investors, devised exotic ways of repackaging mortgages. Investors bought these securities in bulk, just as Goldman bought stocks.
Of course. But broaden your perspective: this is precisely what bothers me about the entire edifice of public trading. The distancing of the investor from the resource contributes to short-sighted exploitation of that resource and the "development of lax standards" of sustainability. In this particular case, the resource is borrowers and at the demands of downstream investors, that resource has been strip-mined bare.

Who's responsible? We are.

As I said before, in the context of globalization:
My views on distribution of responsibility, specifically as it pertains to the public trading of stock, are topics for another day, but here again, as with sub-prime lending, we see the long, thin thread straight to our own retirement accounts. Mediated investment and mediated regulation are in direct opposition. It's giving with one hand and taking with the other, meanwhile further absolving ourselves of any responsibility.
Lowenstein goes on to say: "There is no going back to the 3 percent fixed mortgages, single-earner households and tract housing of that era, but housing — like any investment market — could surely use a dose of (re-)regulation." Hmm...

Finally, he says:
It was John Maynard Keynes who observed the paradox of securities markets: their very liquidity, which investors perceive as a safeguard, creates the conditions for disaster. “Each individual investor flatters himself that his commitment is ‘liquid,’ ” Keynes wrote, and the belief that he can exit the market at will “calms his nerves and makes him much more willing to run a risk.” The catch is that investors, collectively, can never exit in unison. Whenever they try, panic and losses are the sure result. Once, you had to be a hedge-fund player to experience such a trauma. Now, thanks to the dubious wonders of financial engineering, home buyers are exposed to the very same risks.
In this case, I feel like this might not be the best interpretation of events. It's not that borrowers qua investors have tried to exploit their liquidity to exit the system. It's that borrowers qua resource have been irresponsibly managed and are in danger of collapse.

There was something else, but this is long, so I'll save it for later...
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wtf [Aug. 31st, 2007|07:10 pm]

So, we recently were all given webcams at work. This seems frivolous, but whatever. I'll take it. So I installed the Logitech software, played with the webcam for five minutes, and tossed it in the drawer and forgot about it.

Mysteriously, my Cygwin install started acting very strange. Zsh was often unable to fork processes, giving me all kinds of crazy DLL errors, all kinds of strange stuff. Bash seemed to work ok, but what could explain this? Nothing had changed... Then I tried to compile something and I had no luck with that either, autoconf died trying to malloc a block when I had 300M of RAM free... And then I noticed that the whole machine was running at a glacial pace.

Of course I had a process hogging the CPU, and of course it's Logitech's fault. Apparently the process LVPrcSrv.exe is their video effects service, and apparently this service has been known to have this problem for over a year. The fix is easy enough: turn it off. It's not like I really need to waste time making obnoxious facial scenes at my computer with a fish-eye effect, or whatever. But come on. Why is this not fixed? How is my Cygwin install even connected with Logitech's video effects service? Is this Windows' fault, or Logitech's?

(Incidentally, the problem isn't limited to Cygwin, that's just where I happened to see it.)

Here are two threads on this topic, both a year old:

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America hates part-time workers. [Jul. 31st, 2007|09:03 pm]

The lack of good part-time work in America is something I've gone on and on about in the past. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who cares about this. I realize it's all bound up with our private sector healthcare industry and a bunch of other things, too, but still, it would be a happier world if there was more flexibility here. Plus, huge bonus points for saying "part-time paradise", although I guess it's not a super original phrase. Anyway I need to go put on a Stevie Wonder record now...
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More DJ Spooky Plus Rambling, Aesthetics, Criticism [Jul. 17th, 2007|04:54 pm]
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Folks - I'm pretty mellow, and no, I'm not pretentious. If you don't get it, leave it alone, eh? There's plenty of stuff going on in the world. I didn't ask you to come to the event, eh? And every single refernce was well researched and documented. If you'd like more info - my website has the essays that the discussion referred to.

I wish you wouldn't be such an asshole.
Paul aka Dj Spooky
Ok, so my last post was a quote making fun of DJ Spooky. Oddly, within a few hours it received the above anonymous comment. I guess I have a few more things to say about this and I've been putting it off, but now I may as well get back to it. First, I do have to wonder whether the comment really is from the man himself. It's from an IP address that appears to be Swiss, and Wikipedia leads one to believe that that's fairly plausible. On the other hand, that would appear to be a pretty impressive amount of monitoring, catching an LJ post from some random jackass within a few hours. On the third hand, I suppose there's probably a wealth of tools to make that kind of monitoring fairly easy. Anyway it doesn't matter in the end whether the comment is "authentic," the content is fair and worth addressing. (Besides, that kind of authenticity is I guess a pretty suspect notion in our postmodern era of shifting identities and sample-based art, HA!)

Ok, so anyway, I have a few things to say about this comment. First, I wasn't at the event. I've never been to any DJ Spooky event, as I'm not a big fan of the music (it's just not my taste, no offense intended). If it wasn't totally clear, that entire post was a quote from someone else.

Second and much more importantly, the real issue here is the relationship between art and criticism, or art and analysis, or basically art and talking-about-art in any form. Obviously it's a big issue. Should art "stand on its own" in some sense? Is that even a meaningful idea? Is art that's been bolstered or promoted by criticism somehow inauthentic or unsuccessful? Is art that's popular only with critics bad art by definition? How far into "the scene" do we have to go before "insider" becomes "outsider"? Does that even happen?

In any case Spooky has always seemed (to me) to be someone who insists not just on making music but in the same gesture talking about it. This is important, and right or wrong, I think the marriage of art and cultural rumination does sometimes come off as pretentious. It also sometimes comes off as floating an unsteady work of art on a raft of "check out what I'm doing, let me tell you why it's important" contextualization. Neither of these impressions is probably fair. If someone's interested in art and interested in its context, what else is he to do? I'm also interested in these things, so making fun of DJ Spooky is pretty clearly a case of the pot and the kettle. My own inclination personally is to keep art-making and criticism as far apart as possible, at least publicly, but then, my own inclination is not to make art at all, and to do very little, honestly, of anything. So maybe my inclinations aren't so important.

But we do have this idea that an artist ought to be somehow unself-conscious, you know, the myth of the "folk artist" or whatever. And of course this is pretty artificial. But sometimes I think it can be worthwhile, a worthwhile way of sort of establishing a ritual space around art and around performance. I guess I could examine my inclinations at more length, but there's not much point really.

Anyway, I didn't and don't mean to personally offend anyone. I'm sure DJ Spooky is a mellow guy and I hope we'd get along just fine. I suspect we're probably interested in a lot of the same things. This particular anecdote made me laugh with a bit of nostalgia, so I quoted and posted it. Obviously having a laugh at someone's expense isn't a super nice thing to do, so probably I should've thought twice. Sorry for being an asshole.
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(no subject) [Jun. 18th, 2007|12:23 pm]
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I've been away, but I'm back. This is funny:
Spoon departs as quietly as they came in, and the crew sets up two turntables: DJ Spooky is in the house. That Subliminal Kid - a man who is aptly and un-ironically labeled "the world's most pretentious man" by Momus - had been around campus a year before when he gave a "lecture" at the Carpenter Center for our most elite semi-hipsters in the VES department that literally proceeded like: "Using your hands as an instrument... Manipulating the media... Tactile... like... Valentine de Saint-Point... Futurist Manifesto... Here let me show you (Five minutes of scratching) This record is really rare. I am going to pass it around." I think he was nervous and could not find the mental strength to create any sort of arguments out of his silver-tipped bullet points, but the whole thing involved more pointless name dropping and intentionally obtuse prose than a Bible thrown off a cliff.
(I think this would have been circa 1998, probably, which makes it really just perfect.)
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Music [May. 29th, 2007|05:05 pm]

I've had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of great music in the past few days. Last Friday I saw Monolake at the Empty Bottle, and he was excellent as usual. The weekend included a brief trip to Detroit to see Rhythm & Sound and whatever else of the festival we could catch on Saturday, where an unexpected highlight was Guido Schneider. And today I was looking at Monolake's site, and I'd like to note that this is, so far, one of the few good things I've ever read on the subject of techno performance, and I'm quite looking forward to the rest. Then I happened to see this in a brief interview on repetition:
To distinguish good and bad repetitive art, one must listen or watch carefully. Repetitive art can be very subtil but the seemingly simple nature of it gives the unexperienced observer the illusion that the art is simple in itself. Unfortunately the mass of uninspired repetitve dance music does not help the reputation of this genre. I would assume, everyone who could see and hear Steve Reichs Music for 18 Musicians performed live would have to agree that this is truly amazing music.
I'm not at all sure that I'd agree with his assumption, but as I'm looking forward to seeing a live performance of that very piece in a couple of hours, I found this quite a happy coincidence.
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